We are embarking on dark times, maybe some of the darkest this proud and already great country has seen. What I see is a country divided. Divided by anger, resentment and hate. The supreme leader – elect capitalized on that and pushed much of the country to back a man that is a proven racist, misogynist, liar, cheat and failed businessman. He is unhinged, vengeful, irrational, full of hatred and contempt for anyone that stands in his way. He’s not only unprepared to lead this country, he’s the most unqualified person to do so, ever! Now, his presidency might not fully impact your specific way of life, but it will impact someone in your family, circle of friends, co-workers and neighbors.
His hate fueled rhetoric will particularly impact those people in our lives that are women, of color, immigrants, LGBT, Muslim, Jewish, middle or lower class and college students. He’s talked about doing away with the Department of Education and Environmental Protection Agency. He’s talked about putting lackeys such as Gingrich, Christie, Palin and Giuliani in his cabinet, advocated violence against his critics and better relations with one of our nation’s top rivals. The supreme leader will not bring jobs or tax relief to the Rust Belt, Sun Belt, South or Middle-America. If he has his way, he will rip apart immigrant families, turn away those who want to come to our shores, make it harder for your kid’s school to receive funding, alienate our trade partners, reverse climate change regulations, arm more countries with nuclear weapons, get rid of affordable health care and upend our economy. You know, to make America Great Again.
So now, if you don’t think this will impact your life in some way, I ask you to really take a step back, look at all those people you care about and tell me that none of them won’t have a drastically worse life over the next four years. There were roughly 100 million US voters that did not vote on Tuesday. 100 Million that did not lay a stake at who should be leading this country over the next four years. We are a democracy, which means your voice can and should be heard. It’s your right! Like many of you, I’m sad for America right now. Sad for our country, our political system and most importantly for our citizens.
We’ve got four years of this, like it or not. A demagogue who turned Love Trumps Hate upside down and used it to advance his personal agenda, will be the supreme leader for the next four years. We have four November elections to right this ship and move forward as a democratic country that listens to its citizen’s voices and leads us to a united and collaborative future. I’m sad now, but soon after the grieving, the sadness will turn into optimism. Optimism that this hateful regime will not continue to pull us apart, but will galvanize the American people. Freedom always comes at a cost and we’ll certainly pay for it dearly over these next four years. In dark times you unite, you fight, you lead, you inspire.
Closing with something that Mrs. Clinton said in her heartfelt concession speech the other day. Please take it to heart. “I still believe in America,” she assured her supporters. “This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
In the Listening Pile: The Clash – Rock the Casbah
Because we need some change. We gotta rock the Casbah, it’s fucking broken.
Roughly 36 hours until the baseball games count for real. What a great time. The weather is turning, the puffy coats are retreating to closets. I’m not all that optimistic about my Yanks this season, but that’s OK. I’m sure it’ll still be a fun season. Lets go Yanks! Continue reading We’re not the only ones doing this→
A snowstorm is coming. All I can think of is how I miss spring and running outside. We have a few more months of this to go. Winter is here and not going anywhere.
Listening Pile: Purity Ring – Push Pull – I’m really looking forward to this album. Haunting and beautiful. The record sounds like it’s going to be the logical next step from their debut. Megan James and Corin Roddick recorded the album for the first time in the same room together, after making their first album remotely while living in two different cities. It’s gonna sound bigger and more impressive, with bigger beats, soaring vocals. 2nd single is tight too. Can’t wait for the album.
In a lot of ways I’m going to miss 2014. The previous year ended on such a sour note for me that 2014 was bound to be better, based on the balance of nature. 2014 still had its ups and downs, but just like before we made it through the good and the bad. As in previous years, I’m going to stick to what I know, baseball, beer, food and music. Here is 2014 as it mattered to me.
Just A Bit Outside
Madison Bumgarner! Wow, what else can you say. The surly lefty carried the SF Giants on his back to a World Series win. I love the guy, but know that he’s gonna have it rough in 2015 with all those innings logged this year. The Kansas City Royals making it to within an out of tying the series was incredibly impressive as well. Baseball, really needed that and obviously so did the KC fans. It gave a lot of hope to just about any team. A few smart moves and your team could end up in the same spot. That’s probably my favorite thing about baseball now, the parity and quality of competition. Just about every team, bar a few exceptions, have a chance to compete. The Yankees season was just frustrating all around. Injuries and old age really caught up with the team this year. Quote from last year “This team badly needs a youth infusion”. The same sentiment rings true again. They are moving in the right direction, but still have so many questions about their injuries, age and depth. I hope they have a few more moves in store for this offseason, because the team as it looks now, is not a playoff team. And as KC showed, just getting in is half the battle some times. Anything can happen in the postseason now a days.
Last thing about baseball. I cannot remember what it’s like to watch a Yankee game without good old #2 in the lineup. I cannot believe it’s been 20 years since the Yanks had a shortstop different from Derek Jeter. I was fortunate to see him play one of his very first games in 1996 and one of his last in 2014. The guy was a competitor, a class act and a winner. We should be so lucky to see a player like that in our lifetime. He will be missed, by both myself and baseball fans around the world. Best of luck to the man in whatever he decides to do in the future.
The Foamy Stuff
I enjoyed so many great beers this year. There was the amazing Bruery event at Gingerman in September that featured so many beers I never thought I’d try. As for other beers I’ve enjoyed, the new Brooklyn brewery, Other Half did not disappoint one bit. They make tons of hoppy and floral beers, Green Diamonds and Southernhopalistic amongst the best. They have a cool little tasting room as well. Worth a visit if you can make it. Transmitter in LIC is also making some really fantastic saison and farmhouse beers, some with really funky sour notes to them. You can try just about anything of theirs and it will be solid.
My favorite new beer bar in NYC, is the conveniently located Bondurants in the Upper East Side. They have a fantastic selection, with a good amount of quality beers on draft, plus really solid food and friendly, knowledgable staff. It’s a great looking bar too, with old wood finish and an awesome copper bar. Other new favorites include the Jeffrey and Fools Gold. Both solid spots with great selections. Lots of great new places opened this year, one of the more anticipated being the Bronx Brewery’s spot in Hunters Point. Surprisingly a quick 20 minute subway ride from the UES.
In My Belly
It was yet another great year for eating out and food. I tried a bunch of new spots in 2014. Amongst my favorite was the fantastic thin crust pizza and rabbit meatballs at Marta. The Roman-style pizza was inventive and delicious, with toppings like a sunny side egg, tripe, goat sausage and zucchini flowers. Lots of other good stuff on the menu as well. Another of my favorite new places tried was Bar Primi, in the old Peels location on the Bowery. Really solid garlic linguini, kicked up with 4 cloves of the stuff. Really solid. Easily one of my favorite dishes tried all year. Alidoro makes probably my favorite sandwiches in the city. So good.
Another of my favorite new places was Mimi Cheng’s dumplings in the East Village. They are doing some cool stuff with dumplings, aside from traditional versions. They had a buffalo chicken dumpling earlier in the fall, plus a Thanksgiving dumpling. Their homemade sauce is also pretty great, so good, I think they should sell it on it’s own. It would become a hot condiment, much like hot honey or sriracha. Speaking of which, Mokbar in Chelsea market is doing some really cool and inventive stuff with Korean-style ramen and kimchi. Their lunch special bibimbap topped with seasonal vegetables, spicy dressing and pork, was one of the best I’ve ever had. Can’t wait to get back there and try more stuff from the menu.
In One Ear
Like last year, I’m going to start with some of the records that I think are good, but just missed on something. First off, is the SBTRKT album. I was expecting so much from this album, maybe unrealistically so. The previous album was a revelation, mixing many electronic, dance, dub and hiphop elements, plus combining an array of talented quest vocalists. The first few singles showed so much promise too. However this record really falters on so many levels. The songs seem incomplete and as if they were written for the vocalists involved, instead of bringing them in as almost another instrument. That’s what made the first album so special. There was a cohesive vibe and the vocalists all blended into the formula so well. A few other records that I was expecting a lot more from include the Gaslight Anthem, Ariel Pink, Antlers and iceage records. The Gaslight album just fell short in memorable hooks and stories. A fine album, but that’s all. The Ariel Pink just didn’t seem to take his songwriting to the next level as I expected. The Antlers, maybe got a little too much into making a certain kind of record. A couple great songs, but a lot of boring fluff too. The iceage album is just sloppy. I don’t mind the change in direction, they just didn’t fulfill it. The production is just bad, with much of the album sounding terrible, despite some really inventive songwriting. All you hear is vocals, when the instrumentation was begging to be let out.
Finally, on to the best! The Horrors delivered what I think might be their best record yet. They’ve developed from an art-house punk project into one of the most important UK acts around. Luminous takes their sound and just makes it groovier and picking up the pace. The low end really shines through on this album. There are some sick grooves amongst the droney psychedelia, shoegaze and krautrock stylization. It’s an album that could be listened to going on a long run or paired with a bottle of vodka and hallucinogens. It’s wacked out and trippy, but also very rhythmic and machinelike at times. They made a love ballad and huge Soundgarden type riffs(Mine and Yours) all on the same album. They have perfected their formula and are once again my album of the year.
My second favorite album of the year is Tampa post-punk outfit Merchandise’sAfter the End. I jokingly told a young colleague of mine that they sounds like The Smiths meet The Wedding Present meets Talk Talk. He obviously looked at me and had no clue what I was talking about. Bare with me though. It’s a fantastic record that wouldn’t have sounded out of place being played to death in an early 90’s college dorm. It’s got that angst ridden influence of 80’s Brit-pop yet totally American spirit that many of my generation grew up on. Just a fantastic album that combines so much of what I loved in music growing up, yet feels fresh and original. Cloud NothingsHere and Nowhere Else is just an amazing piece of abrasive, fast paced rock and roll with lyrics that explore mental illness, heartbreak and growing up. It’s a punk rock record for 2014. The guitars are loud and edgy, the drumming is propulsive and maybe some of the best I’ve heard all year. Fantastic album from these kids. 8 songs in 28 minutes. Fuck Yeah! Cheatahs self-titled album is much of what I loved about indie(er..college) rock in the 90’s. Sprawlling guitars, hushed vocals, heavy rhythmsection and some stare at the floor shoegaze. I’m a sucker for that shit, everyone knows that. This album hits on all those notes. They were also the loudest band I saw all year….proportionately speaking of course. We Were Promised Jetpacks third album is the realization of years of hard work. Unraveling sees the young Scots leave behind some of the campy, pubescent, nerd punk they were so known for and sees a mature, thoughtful and driven band. They are louder, tighter and more developed. Structurally, they have more in common with bands like Snow Patrol and Coldplay(the good kind), then they do with what they sounded like before. The songs are a little darker and grander then they’ve ever been before. Huge leap by these guys. Live too, they destroy now.
The rest of the top ten is a mix of old and new. The Eagulls, made a dark post-punk album that just kicks you in the face. It’s measured, aggresive and angular, with tons of feedback and swirling noise. Toronto’s Death From Above 1979 delivered their 2nd proper studio album, a mere 10 years after their first. It seems like they did not skip a beat, with deep groves, explosive beats and snarky vocals. They developed their craft over the years and sound much more cohesive and accomplished than ever before. Pains of Being Pure At Heart make heart on your sleeve power pop. They’ve gotten really, really good at it. Gone are the days of the back-room indie twee, this band has a full and dynamic sound. They scored a Hershey’s commercial for crying out loud. It makes me happy everytime I see it. Spoon’s 19th record, well not really it’s only their 8th, but seems like they’ve been around forever huh? Another fantastic album, this one a bit more Elvis Costello than the last record, which I thought was a bit mellow. This is a bunch of methodically crafted songs of jangly pop infused with Southern soul. Excellent as always. Jungle, came through with one of the best debut records in recent memory. They had a ton of hype around them and it was pulsating when they played their first live show in the US last March. I don’t think anyone thought they’d look like they do, which I actually really loved about it. They made a really soulful and groovy record that would make disciples of TV on the Radio and Ratatat proud.
From there, a bunch of great albums from old mainstays, TV On The Radio, Interpol, Kevin Drew, Jesse Ware, Kele Okerke, Wild Beasts, Twilight Sad, Caribou, The Drums,Aurelio Valle and more, plus Nenah Cherry came back with a phenomenal new album produced by Fourtet, her first in some time. Run the Jewels made the hip hop album of the year and let us hear something from Zach De La Rocha for the first time in ages. The Jazz June returned with their fist album in some ten years. New stuff from upstarts and new acts Ryan Hemsworth, Movement, Ume, Little Daylight, Perfume Genius, Alvvays, FKA Twigs, War on Drugs, Phantogram, The Young, Single Mothers, and Bass Drum of Death. Additionally, there were some really solid EP’s and singles from Operators, featuring Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade, plus a solid EP from No Devotion, featuring old friend Geoff from Thursday, plus the remaining members of Lostprophets. Additionally, old pal Walter Schreifels popped up on Vanishing Life, a melodic hardcore band he fronts. And finally, Les Sins the dancey side project of Chaz Bundick, the mastermind behind Toro y Moi.
Listening Pile: The Horrors– In and Out of Sight – My favorite song on the album, this trippy sounscape of swirling guitars and funky bassline is just so incredibly awesome. The video is weird. Looks like some sort of loopy clip. Maybe fan made. Don’t know.
Been thinking a lot about the year 1994 lately. With all the recent album anniversaries, Nas, Oasis, Blur, Soundgarden, NIN, Sunny Day Real Estate, Weezer, etc…plus the death of Kurt Cobain, it’s really gotten me in a nostalgic mood. I think about that year, I was 15 years old and really starting to understand a lot more things in life. Girls, music, film, food, art, culture, it was all new and intriguing to me.
It was also the 25th anniversary of Woodstock and MTV did a Woodstock concert that summer. I remember thinking back how so many of the people that went to the original Woodstock had done really wonderful and amazing things, changing the way we saw the world from politics and civil rights to art and culture. It’s funny to think that in five years, we’ll essentially be the same age of that generation in ’94. Makes me wonder what have I done in the last 20 years, what will I do in the next five. What will my generation be known for? Hopefully not just hurling insults at celebrities on Twitter.
Listening Pile: Nas – The World Is Yours – The old saying is you have your whole life to write your debut album and two years to do the follow up. Nas has made some great albums, but has never been able to recreate the magic from his first. A truly special and monumental hip hop record.
It scrolled across my newsfeed and social channels this morning. The man that was better known as the Ultimate Warrior, James Brian Helleig, has passed away. He provided entertainment and inspiration to a lot of kids and fans of the WWF. He was young, only 54, but 100 in wrestling years. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters, along with a legacy as a great entertainer. Rest in piece.
Listening Pile: Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me – great song from the fantastic new album from the young Ohio band. They took that next step in their songwriting, really anthemic and catchy, but just enough abrasiveness to give it an edge.
What a year. 2013 flew by. The days get shorter, life gets longer. It started off great, then there were some odd bumps in the road as spring turned into summer. However, we made it through the good and the bad. A few years ago, someone told me to stick to what I know, baseball, beer and music. So, here goes. This is a rundown of 2013 as it mattered, to me. A Couple Things I Think I Think about 2013
Just A Bit Outside
Baseball, again ended with the Red Sox as champions. They went from last to first, which gives every single team optimism going into next season. To think, a few good moves one way or another could lead a team to a title. The Yankees season was a bit disappointing, considering how many star players missed time due to injury. It was a bit refreshing seeing role players and washed up guys help out at times, but it will definitely be good to see the injured stars and new acquisitions next year. Hopefully the team doesn’t continue to age so poorly. This team badly needs a youth infusion.
As for the rest of baseball, it was an interesting season, filled with upstart teams that really gave their fans something to cheer about, such as the Royals, Indians and Pirates. If there are three teams I can think of that really deserve to win for their fans, it’s those three teams right there. On the mound, Max Scherzer was pretty money all year long, so was Clayton Kershaw, again. Is it any coincidence both are free agents in the next two years, just as the Yanks are looking to stash some cash away for a rainy day?
Another great year of youth being infused into baseball. It’s always a joy seeing young guys like Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig, Jose Fernandez, and Will Myers make a huge impact at such a young age. I’ve always been a big fan of prospects and young players. It’s great to see them come up and be stars. Now hopefully the Yanks can start figuring out how to acquire and develop some of those guys.
One more thing about baseball. I would love to say thank you to Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, both of which retired this year and made a huge impact on my life and my team. You will both be missed. I was lucky enough to be in Tampa on the day Mariano announced his retirement and made his first appearance in Spring Training 2013. Lucky indeed.
The Foamy Stuff
Another great year of beer. I had tons of great beers both here in NYC and on the road, including stops in San Diego, Austin, Tampa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Peekskill, Philly and Connecticut. In San Diego, I got to try Pliny the Elder and Stone’s Enjoy By on back to back tastes at the Stone Brewpub, which is a must visit for any beer lover. It was by far my favorite brewery I’ve ever been to. It’s so awesome, you could literally have a wedding there, it’s that beautiful. Also visited Lost Abbey/Pizza Port on that trip. That was pretty awesome too. While in Austin, I tried beers from TX brewery Jester King, which is worth the hype. Also, got to try my very first Oklahoma Beer from Prairie Artisan Ales. Tampa was for Hunaphu Day at Cigar City again. Loved every moment of the fest again this year. Enjoyed tons of great beers and made tons of new friends. Can’t wait for this year.
In terms of other beers I’ve enjoyed, really loved just about every beer I’ve tried from Peekskill. Love them so much, I visited them twice this year. Westbrook from South Carolina is another brewery making great beers. They just came into NYC this year and I’ve loved just about everything I’ve tried including the IPA, Rye IPA, Goze, One Claw and the Thai beer. Just great stuff all around. Cigar City also found it’s way back to NYC, which is good since I could only bring back to much on every trip down to Tampa. Jai Alai, such a great go to IPA. Really enjoyed just about everything I had from New Glarus this year too. Wow, I wish we could get those here in NY.
And without any doubt, the best new beer bar in NYC, is the wonderful Torst in Greenpoint. A completely amazing selection, which they let you try in different sizes, 5oz, 8oz or full pour. It’s a really good looking bar too, with old wood finish and an awesome granite bar. Man, I love that place and am happy I don’t live that close, otherwise I’d be there every day.
In My Belly
Another great year for food. My thing this year was homemade risotto. I had never known it was actually pretty easy, albeit laborious to make. You get a bunch of ingredients, proteins, wine, broth, veggies and just stir. It’s actually somewhat therapeutic.
In terms of restaurants with great risotto, there’s Cafe D’Alsace in the UES which has seasonal versions, the summer seafood one being my favorite. Little Owl in the West Village is pretty good too. Risotteria isn’t half bad either. Perilla has a faro risotto that is pretty bomb too.
I tried lots of new places to eat and drink this year, some of which aren’t necessarily all that new, just to me. One of them is Gotham West Market, which has Ivan Ramen, which in itself plenty of reason to visit, but also has food from Cannibal, El Comado, Blue Bottle Coffee and Court Street Sandwich shops as well. It’s a good spot for one of those nights where your companion might not have the same food in mind. Another place is Maison Premiere, in Williamsburg, which has absinthe drinks and awesome oysters.
In One Ear
Music, this year was exceptional. Like last time, I’m going to start with some of the records that I think are good, but really don’t deserve the praise given to them. First off, is the Queens of the Stone Age. I was just expecting a lot more from the album. All the guests, including Grohl behind the kit and the record falters a bit. From what I understand, Josh Homme was going through a lot of personal stuff while making the record, and it shows. It’s a lot more intimate and heartfelt, which is great, but just not what I was expecting from QOTSA. Maybe the record will grow on me, I don’t know, it happens. A few other records that I was expecting a lot more from include the No Age, BRMC, Beach Fossils, Sigur Ros and Savages records. To me, almost all those records falter in either production, quality or lavish songwriting.
Now, onto the good…the best! Deerhunter has hit that zone when they just can’t make a bad record. They’ve hit favorite band status. They developed into one of the most outstanding American rock bands around now. Monomania could possibly be their greatest piece of work yet. It’s a little psychedelic, a little country, a little shoegaze, styled with deep southern grooves and rich melodies. It’s a rare record where every single song is exceptional and they never get old listening too. Any time, anywhere, a Monomania song comes on and I can’t resist myself. I think that makes for an album of the year, wouldn’t you say?
My second favorite album of the year The National’sTrouble Will Find Me. It’s a gorgeous record from start to finish and any other year, it’s a record of the year. In fact, I think their last 3 or 4 albums have been my record of the year. This record is so good it got the band nominated for their first ever Grammy, which is a few albums too late in my opinion. Weekend’sMirror is just an amazing piece of gothey inspired nu-gaze that just revels in washed out guitars and deep basslines. Ex-CopsTrue Hallucinations was a great first release from Other Music’s new label. It’s a washy, lo-fi, dreamy soundcloud with boy/girl harmonies and jangly guitars. It sort of combines what you think some of the best records Other Music would be playing in the shop. Chvrches debut album The Bones Of What You Believe came with a ton of hype and buzz, and albums like that rarely ever meet expectations. However, the sugary synthpop and sweet melodies delivered one of the best debut albums in recent memory. The best thing about this band, is that it features old friend Iain Cook, the former leader of amazing and underrated Scottish band, Aereogramme.
The rest of the top ten is a mix of old and new favs, making great records. Girls Names, a dark post-punk/synthy groove full of a tinny and distant Scottish brogue. The New Life came out on Slumberland, one of the best labels going now. Montreal’s No Joy delivered a fantastic mix of aggresive and dreamy shoegaze with female vocals and lots of harmonies. “Blue Neck Riviera” from the quartet’s 2nd album, Wait to Pleasure, is one of the sexiest shoegaze songs I’ve ever heard, with just a bit of a dancey beat underneath the dreamy vocals. Toro y Moi’sAnything In Return sees this dude just take his unique version of chillwave to the next level, with lush tones, R&B beats, a little funk, some dance beats and even some bubblegum pop. Next up is an album I sadly slept of for a good portion of the year and it wasn’t until I heard Aluna George’s song on their album, Settle, that Disclosure‘s sound really hit me. Despite being young, the brother duo are 21 and 19, they hit on various subgenre’s of the dance scene, even recalling some early 90’s Chicago house. This record kills it, dance album of the year! Boom, I said it. And to close out the top ten, and believe me this was a tough one. But I’m going with a band I dissed the last time I did this, Cults. Last time I felt they didn’t give enough new songs on their album to warrant a spot, this time, wow, they raised the bar. Not only did they deliver a record, Static, full of sweet girl-pop melodies, but found a darker, moodier and a bit more rocking side. Word has it, they made this record after breaking up, which in itself is tough, but the fact the record is awesome, makes it that much better and easier to understand the title and the edginess.
From there, so many great albums from old mainstays, BRMC, Black Angels, M.I.A., Phoenix, Strokes, Tomahawk, !!!, New Order, Biffy Clyro, Telekinisis, Rogue Wave, Shearwater, Nine Inch Nails and more, plus one favorite bands of the past 20+ years, My Bloody Valentine returned with a vengeance! Some side projects I really enjoyed, including Gruff from Super Furry Animals’ Neon Neon and Heterotic featuring Gravenhurst. Neil Halstad remembered how to play shoegaze on his new project, Black Hearted Brother. New stuff from upstarts and newer acts Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr., Beach Fossils,Aluna George,CharlieXCX, Foals, Iceage, Strfkr, Big Dick, Ruby Sons, Mmoths, Daughter and True Widow. Additionally, there were some really solid EP’s from Wild Nothing, MMoths, Gems, and a band that released multiple EP’s, enough to probably make an LP, Cold Cave.
Listening Pile: Deerhunter – Back To The Middle – A great song and odd video. Not my favorite song on the album, but this video is so odd and amusing, I had to include it in my post. Shot in London and directed by Olivier Groulx, the video features Durassie Kiangangu as its main protagonist…in drag. Which if you saw Deerhunter in concert recently, you’d realize singer Bradford Cox wears a dress while playing.
All Ends With Beginnings
Spring, it’s finally here in NYC. Took long enough, huh? Seemed like we had one of those winters that would never end. Hopefully we get a full Spring and it doesn’t get crazy hot in May. I hate those years. Lots and lots going on these last few weeks. As the weather warmed, I started thinking about road trips, drinking outside, baseball, outdoor concerts and long bike rides with no destination in mind. The weather is getting just about perfect for all these things. Here are some of my picks:
I have already gone up to Peekskill Brewery, did it earlier in the month. It’s a quick ride up the Hudson Line and just a short walk from the train station. They have a ton of great beers(winners of Tap NY’s Governors cup), good food and a rooftop bar coming soon. It’s the perfect destination for quick getaway out of the City on a nice Spring or Summer day. If you’re adventurous you can head into town to grab food, cocktails or beers at gastropub, Birdsall House.
3rd Avenue Ale House
Another place, close to me has just unveiled outdoor seating. 3rd Avenue Ale House, in the Upper East Side has debuted their outdoor seating just over the past few weeks. Lots of sun early in the day, so makes for a nice spot early in the morning when temperatures are still rising. They’ve got a great selection of craft beers and their menu is pretty good. I like the chicken sandwich with apples. Trust me, it works.
I’ve yet to do this, but I’m going to one of these weekends, I swear. But out in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Dumbo on Sundays, they have the Smorgasburg flea market. The kick is, they have great food too. Lots of roving vendors selling great food, pickles, pastries, chocolates, cheese, you name it. Even the Brooklyn Brewshop sells their kits there too. Last year Smorgasburg debuted a local beer, wine, and spirits drinking area called SmorgasBar. It previously featured Brooklyn, Kelso and Sixpoint. I’ve yet to hear much about what’s going on there this year, but will report back. Hopefully as soon as this weekend, wink wink.
Ok, I know I had my issues with Googa Mooga last year, but so did most of the attendees, particularly the people that went to the mess on the first day, where they ran out of food and booze. Hoping they fixed a lot of those issues this year, because it was a fun day in the sun last year. Hall and Oates was pretty amazing too. I’ve never seen so many people so happy and dancing at the same time. From the food I had too, it was pretty good. So, they have a lot going on this year, with a 3rd day added and being billed as a concert with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Flaming Lips. I’m going on Sunday and hope this year lives up to last year and exceeds it in terms of quality, service and fun. Psyched to see Sharon Jones, Cults and De La Soul.
Listening Pile: Daft Punk – Get Lucky ft. Pharrell
I will start with the fact, that as much as I enjoy this group, I also have a somewhat contentious relationship with them. Let me explain. First and foremost, when I worked my first job out of high school, I worked retail at Footaction, which I don’t think still exists. Maybe I’m wrong, I haven’t been to a mall in the US in years. Anyhows, it’s about the same time that Around The World started blowing up. Needless to say, all the DMX programmers(they did the music for countless stores across the US), seemed to want to program this song as many times as humanly possible. So, on an average 4 or 5 hour shift, I would hear this song, oh I don’t know, 7 or 8 times. This happened almost every day for an entire summer. So, by the time I started college in August of that year, I’d heard this song about 500 times. Living in a co-ed dorm, I heard this song another 500 times over the next year. It took me about 10 years to really be able to listen to that song again. I love it, but we have our issues!
So, up next, is their song One More Time. We also have a relationship, though not as contentious, just tedious. Trust me on this. So, spring 2001, I’m about to graduate college and I had been working for a record label for the past year. My student advisor recommended also getting an internship to not only supplement the job I had, but to also gain new experience and credits. “Graduate faster kid!” Seemed like a good enough idea, until I showed up for my internship only to find out I’d be packing mailers of Daft Punk’s One More Time, Gorillaz Tomorrow Comes Today and BRMC’s debut 7″, along with a lot of other crappy records I cringe even thinking of…hello Lenny Kravitz! This was not the fun you’d think it would be. Packing thousands of mailers for 8 hours a day was about as much fun as it sounds. The best thing to come of this was my ability to be able to ravage the music library. I came away that summer with hundreds of awesome records.
Anyhow, me and Daft Punk… we’re ok now. I loved the Tron Legacy soundtrack. I loved Alive. And this new jam, featuring Pharrell is just hot. I think I’ve forgiven them for all they did to me, including showing up at a Pheonix show when I backed out of my tickets at the last minute with a cold. Errrrr… Sorry, sorry. No we’re OK. And I cannot wait for the album. It’s gonna be good, I bet. But I’ve got my eye on you robotic musical geniuses. I’ve got my eye on you.
Tampa was everything I wanted it to be. It was sunny, warm and incredibly eventful. We were a bit delayed getting out of NYC with the snow storm. There’s nothing like waiting for hours on a tarmac, only to have the plane de-iced and taking off a few hours late. We made it though. It’s where you’re going
Now on to the good stuff, the food, sun, baseball and beer. We arrived in Tampa about 1pm and after checking in at our hotel, it was only natural to head over to Cigar City and have a few beers, scope out the scene for the next day and most importantly, pick up some tokens for the beer lines. It was a fantastic afternoon, we grabbed a few flights of beer, trying just about everything on tap. The obvious favorites were the old standards, Jai Alai and Maduro Brown, as well as the Cubano imperial sweet stout, the Josh Brengle double IPA and the exceptional Dos Costas Oeste, a farmhouse ale aged on grapefruit wood.
From there, it was all about soaking in some sun and making friends. We made friends from the brewery, that hooked us up with some brews. We also made friends with some great folks we spent time with the next day. On the advice of some our new friends, we made our way down to Ybor City to grab dinner at Columbia, the oldest restaurant in Tampa. Really cool, really old school, down to the classic turn of the century architecture, design and staff. It was a treat. We sampled a bunch of tapas style appetizers and got the paella to share for dinner. It was good. We had to roll ourselves out the door.
We strolled around Ybor City for a bit, scoping out all the cool little cigar shops, bars and restaurants. We made stops at two places, Ybor City Wine Bar, a cute spot with a knowledgeable staff, that also had great craft beer in bottles and King Corona, a cigar shop with great beers on tap. Both spots were unexpected but a hell of a treat and a good way to close out the evening. We decided to turn in early to prepare us for the marathon that would be Hunahpu Day and the Yankees game.
Like I know what’s coming
Upon waking up, we grabbed some quick snacks and coffee and started making our way to Cigar City. We met a great guy from Chicago on the ride down. He would share some beers with us later in the day. Upon arriving, we found ourselves on a massive line, that somehow moved pretty quickly. Took about 35 minutes from the time we got online at 8:15 am, until we were in the festival area. They started pouring beers at 9am, but we were sharing with people we met online already. Thank goodness for coffee cups.
If you get to Hunahpu Day early, you know you will spend a good amount of time online and that’s exactly what we did. Basically jumping on the beers lines as soon as we walked in. We sampled a few homebrews and some bottles I had while we waited. Our first spot got us a good amount of beers, two per person. We sampled the fresh Hunahpu, Three Floyds Czech Booty Camp Pils, Intuition Ale Works I-10 IPA and the wholly unexpected, but awesome mead B. Nektar Zombie Killer Cherry Cyser. Oddly, maybe it was the best thing I would try all day. We had lot of other beers from Founders, Three Floyds Zombie Dust and Michiana Power Pale Ale, Bruery Autumn Maple, Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout, Terrapin Moo Hoo and more. All amazing beers. I follow you, like a stray
We quickly grabbed some food and water and started sobering up so we could head to the Yankee game. Steinbrenner Field is about a 20 minute walk down the highway from Cigar City. So, we made our way over and sadly missed the first two innings and Derek Jeter’s first appearance of the season. No worries. We made it in time to see the highlight of the day, Mariano Rivera’s first spring appearance. This was also the day he announced this would be his last year, with retirement coming at season’s end. The applause while Metallica’s Enter Sandman played was rousing. It was as if it were an October game. The fans truly showed Mo that they were going to miss him. It was beautiful. The Yanks went down to the Braves that day, but seeing Mo was the highlight. The thing I love about Spring Training is the access you get to the players. You are so close to the action, to the players. I was maybe 20 feet away from Mo while he was warming up to go in. That was awesome and maybe the highlight of a day with many.
Listening Pile: Shout Out Louds – W.I.Y.F. (Dust into Diamonds)
Love this band. I have since their debut, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. They’ve consistently put out great albums, but this one is maybe the best since their debut. This song in particular is just beautiful. Give it a listen, it’s a gem of dreamy, indie pop with Adam Olenius’ Smithesque vocals.